Fleets of battery-powered robots could zip along monorails installed in solar arrays, tweaking individual panels’ angles so they follow the sun across the sky. This could be cheaper than installing actuators on every solar panel so they track the sun, according to a new robotics startup. Robots can make everything easier!
The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar pulled into Monaco's Hercule Harbor on Friday, completing its journey around the world--the very first solely solar-powered watercraft to do so. Of course, it's not an ordinary ship. It cost over $16 million USD, has over 500 square meters of solar panels, and can house 200 people.
As spaceborne energy-harvesting schemes go, this one seems faintly possible — an array of curved mirrors directing sunlight toward solar cells, their energy production microwaved down to Earth. It’s so realistic, actually, that NASA is providing funding for a proof-of-concept study.
Rising energy prices usually spark some creative ideas for alternatives, but a new one from a futurist named George Dvorsky is pretty far-fetched: He envisions destroying Mercury and scavenging its rocky remains. The debris could be used to build an array of solar power collectors, a Dyson swarm, around the sun.
Concentrated solar power plants could get an efficiency boost inspired by flowers, according to MIT researchers. Designing solar mirrors in a spiral pattern similar to sunflower heads could reduce the space required for CSP plants and increase the amount of sunlight the mirrors collect.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.